Spit Happens #52 – Tokaj
Have you tried Tokaj? Have you heard of Tokaj? If not it’s time for you to stretch your brain a bit. Tokaj is is the name of the wines from the Tokaj wine region in Hungary or the adjoining Tokaj wine region in Slovakia. This region is noted for its sweet wines made from grapes affected by noble rot, a style of wine which has a long history in this region.
Aszú: This is the world-famous sweet, topaz-colored wine known throughout the English-speaking world as Tokay.
The original meaning of the Hungarian word aszú was “dried”, but the term aszú came to be associated with the type of wine made with botrytised (IE. “nobly” rotten) grapes. The process of making Aszú wine is as follows.
- Aszú berries are individually picked, then collected in huge vats and trampled into the consistency of paste (known as aszú dough).
Must or wine is poured on the aszú dough and left for 24–48 hours, stirred occasionally.
- The wine is racked off into wooden casks or vats where fermentation is completed and the aszú wine is to mature. The casks are stored in a cool environment, and are not tightly closed, so a slow fermentation process continues in the cask, usually for several years.
- The concentration of aszú was traditionally defined by the number of puttony of dough added to a Gönc cask (136 liter barrel) of must. Nowadays the puttony number is based on the content of sugar and sugar-free extract in the mature wine. Aszú ranges from 3 puttonyos to 6 puttonyos, with a further category called Aszú-Eszencia representing wines above 6 puttonyos. Unlike most other wines, alcohol content of aszú typically runs higher than 14%. Annual production of aszú is less than one percent of the region’s total output.
Tokay ( the English spelling ) was a term that used to be used to describe Pinot Gris from Alsace and a style of sweet wine from the Rutherglen region in Australia as well. In more recent times it has been phased out and is now a protected terminology for wines from Hungary/Slovakia exclusively.
If you are up for it I suggest trying Tokaj Aszu 5 Puttonyos Chateau Dereszla 10 listed by the BC Liquor Stores Link. Also available at Everything Wine.
This delicious Tokaj is showing some nice mature flavors and has a depth and texture that would be a challenge for other winemakers to provide for the price. The botrytis flavor really shines here. Brilliant with aged Gouda or the great Canadian Cheese Oka.
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